For the first time this season, the Clippers find themselves in front of an elimination game on Tuesday. And this sentence alone gives California fans a cold sweat. Comfortably in the lead in the series, Doc Rivers’ men let Denver come down to 3-3, a storyline that brings back very bad memories to the Clippers Nation. Memories that surely run through the mind of the Doc today.
The 2020 Clippers don’t have much to do with those of Lob City in the mid-2010s. The squad is completely different, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are now the stars of the team, and the other franchise Los Angeles seems more armed than ever to go to the end. But despite all that, the word choke returns once again in the vocabulary of the Clips, the latter having missed two opportunities to participate in the first Conference Final in their history. 3-1 against the Nuggets, +16 in Game 5, +19 in Game 6, but a Game 7 of fear to play today. So inevitably, connections are made with the bitter failures of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and… Doc Rivers a few years ago. Because yes, it’s been a while since the Clippers coach has been in Los Angeles (since 2013) and unlike his current players, he has experienced the enormous disappointments of 2014 and 2015 (sensitive souls of the Clippers, abstain).
2014, Thunder – Clippers, Game 5, +13 four minutes from the end, +7 to 49 seconds from the buzzer
Six years ago, in the midst of Donald Sterling controversy, the Clippers faced the Thunder in the Western Conference semifinals, with the series at 2-2 and a Game 5 on the Oklahoma City floor. Rivers and his guys were in a perfect position to come out of Chesapeake Energy Arena with a win and then finish at home. 101-88 for Los Angeles four minutes from time, a seven-point advantage 49 seconds from the final buzzer, it seemed well underway. And then patatra. Faced with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, the Clippers have completely cracked. Chris Paul’s loss of ball, referee decisions that do not play in favor of the Angelinos, the three victorious throws from Russ… we were treated to a rather incredible alignment of the planets which finally allowed the Thunder to win 105- 104. Terrible for LA, which will not recover. And to think that Reggie Jackson was playing OKC at the time …
2015, Clippers – Rockets, Game 6, +19 in the third quarter, +13 at the start of the last
In 2015, rebelote, still in the semifinals of the Conference. This time, it was against Houston that Los Angeles messed up, in Game 6 of the series. At 3-2 for the Clippers (who led 3-1) and the opportunity to finish off the Rockets at Staples Center, the gang at Doc Rivers were in the lead for much of the game, taking up to 19 points. in the third quarter and leading 92-79 at the start of the last. The rest, it was cataclysmic. 40-15 for the Rockets in the final quarter, the Rockets turning on from the parking lot, Josh Smith and Corey Brewer turning into JJ Redick, Houston’s unlikely victory. The Clippers will be eliminated during Game 7 in Texas.
Even if the context is different today, Doc Rivers does not want to relive this kind of scenario. Because if the Clippers drop this series against Denver, it will probably be the biggest choke of all. The expectations, the title ambitions, the 3-1 advantage, the big lead in Game 5 and Game 6… that would be a real disaster, and the ultimate symbol of the Clips’ sufficiency this year. Asked by ESPN, the Los Angeles coach spoke about the recent cracking of his team while she had the series well in hand.
“There is no secret potion that explains what happened. There are two things. First, we did not defend, they shot almost 60% in the second period. And then, what is striking is that they went to the free throw line like every action. “
And when a journalist asked him what he will tell his players in the locker room before this Game 7 of fear, here is what he replied.
“You know, great motivational speeches are very overpriced. They work for about three minutes. Everyone is on the cleat for three minutes, but then you have to focus on basketball. There is no such thing as magic speech, that’s in the movies. The most important thing is preparation. “
Well, we hope that Doc Rivers has prepared his players well for this decisive match, because otherwise the shitstorm will be monumental. The Clippers don’t have the right to lose this series against Denver, they just don’t have the right …
Text source: ESPN